Michelle O'Brien

berlin

An Ode to Berlin


I moved to you 5 years ago this month, and how that time has flown. I never knew love for a place before living in you, and now I’m head over heels. You can be a harsh bitch who kicks me when I’m down and you provide both immense challenges and endless frustrations. But your magic, rough charm and raw beauty continue to take my breath away every single day. You and your inhabitants fill my heart with endless inspiration and make my soul sing. As dysfunctional as our relationship is, you’ve changed my life completely by giving me the tools to discover myself, and for that I’m eternally grateful. No matter where the future takes me, you are now my home and always will be.

Lichtgrenze Berlin: The power of public art

There are times when art can say what words cannot.

9th November 2014. 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. 25 years of Freedom. To commemorate, Berlin presents its largest ever public art installation: Lichtgrenze by brothers Christopher & Marc Bauder, produced flawlessly by my past employer from transmediale festival, Kulturprojekte Berlin. Stretching 15 kilometres across the city, Lichtgrenze traces the path of the Berlin Wall with 8000 white helium balloons, released into Berlin’s skies after three days on the evening of 9th November, the day the Wall fell 25 years ago.

In my mind this cultural project represents everything public art should be. Ephemeral, reflective, fragile, inviting and transformational. It offers an open invitation for people young and old to join together in common spirit, contemplation and serendipitous exchange. Walking this pilgrimage over the course of this weekend, along with tens of thousands of other Berliners and Berliners-at-heart, was an experience I’ll never forget and an inspiring reminder of why I do the work I do.

Warm beer, cold women

The final days of winter in Kreuzberg, Berlin.

Winter view — Graefekiez, Berlin

Sepia glory

At the Neukölln Flowmarkt today I came across a worn old photo album. Inside were pages and pages of tiny square photos from what looked like the 1930s-60s, showing the history of a middle class German family in all its sepia glory – from weddings, birthdays and Christmases, to children playing, fancy dress parties and drunken celebrations. Most of the photos were not high quality but the images gave me an intense feelings of nostalgia and intimacy. How did these precious memories end up for sale at a flea market? The images below – simple snapshots from a Sunday stroll – were inspired by this old album.

 

Where the sweet birds sang

“That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.”
— William Shakespeare (1609)

Visualized

Last weekend I took photos for Visualized Berlin, a conference bringing together some of Europe’s most innovative information designers and data artists. Here are a few photos from this very engaging event.
 
 













Berlin Art Hack

After a summer hiatus in Sydney and Vancouver, I was happy to spend my first weekend back in Berlin reacquainting myself with the city’s thriving art scene at Art Hack Day Berlin and its culminating exhibition Going Dark, hosted by the awesome guys from LEAP and co-presented by transmediale.

It was great to see so many members of Berlin’s art community out in force to support this event (over 500 I would guess), showcasing 20 works from 50 artists, all on the theme ‘Going Dark’. My favourite works were of the participatory variety, including the DARK LEAKS two-part installation where audience members typed their darkest secrets onto a computer on one side of the exhibition, whilst a tiny mechanical duck-like creature announced these (often bleak) confessions in a monotonous English accent in another room. Jeremy Bailey’s performative intervention, in which he auctioned off 5 of the exhibition artists’ Facebook profiles, was also a highlight.

The only downside to the evening was the fact I broke my 10 year McDonald’s fast by eating part of Kim Asendorf’s installation THERE WILL BE BURGERS. I’m disgusted in myself and can’t get the taste out of my mouth. I guess I was swept away in the victorious moment the installation was liberated from the plinth to the people. But never again.

I’m looking forward to seeing the Berlin Art Hack concept expanded for its next incarnation as part of transmediale in Feb 2014. Berlin: it’s so great to be back!


















































My photo of Teufelsberg Berlin, as featured on germany-travel.org.

Frühling in Görli

The first real day of Spring, and Kreuzbergers descend on Görlitzer Park to celebrate.

















It’s Bigger Than

A wintery Sunday of great music and a friendly crowd at Prince Charles, Berlin. Thanks to Dan and Lisa from It’s Bigger Than for organising such a fun event – and even better a fundraiser for Save the Children‘s Syria Appeal.






























Ode to Winter

There’s no denying Berlin’s winter is long and hard. From October until April there is an almost total lack of sun, limited hours of daylight, constant below zero temperatures, and a colour palate limited to 50 shades of grey. Some days it feels like winter will never end. But it will, and it does – there is light at the end of the tunnel. So here is an Ode to Winter: grim, bleak, but also full of fragile beauty. A time for hibernation and reflection, shedding of old skins, and preparation for the rebirth of spring.


















Weddingmarkt Kunst & Kulturmarkt

Weddingmarkt Arts & Culture Market at SUPERMARKT, Wedding.














East Side Gallery Protest

“Wowereit, das Denkmal bleibt!”
East Side Gallery Demonstration – Berlin, 3 March 2013


































Shopping for Weihnachtsbäume

Herbst in Reuterkiez

It’s a quiet Sunday morning in Neukölln and there’s a sense of impending hibernation in the air. The clock turned back last night and I need gloves for the first time to keep feeling in my fingers. As the sun shines rays of fading warmth and the golden leaves continue their relentless fall, we prepare ourselves psychologically for the long winter months ahead.

All the wonderful art happening at Achtundvierzig Stunden Neukölln this weekend is making me a little homesick for Berlin. I ♥ my Kiez.

Frühlingssonntag

A lazy Sunday back in Berlin, roaming the streets of Kreuzberg and Neukölln in search of markets, jewellery trunk shows, good coffee and even better waffles.
The sun is shining; spring is here.

Friedrichshain

Yes, sometimes I leave Neukölln. A trip to Boxhagener Platz Flohmarkt, Friedrichshain.

 

A Wet Winter Sunday

A wet winter Sunday around the streets of Neukölln.

Come as you are.

First Glühwein of the season last night at Berlin’s WeihnachtsZauber Gendarmenmarkt. First Christmas market pics here.

Weihnachtsmärkte

First Glühwein of the season last night at Berlin’s WeihnachtsZauber Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market.

Today the winter coat came out for the first time since February.